Job Loss and Behavioral Change: The Unprecedented Effects of the India Lockdown in Delhi

29 Pages Posted: 15 May 2020

See all articles by Kenneth Lee

Kenneth Lee

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics

Harshil Sahai

University of Chicago - Department of Economics

Patrick Baylis

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics

Michael Greenstone

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; Becker Friedman Institute for Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: May 15, 2020

Abstract

On March 24, 2020, the Prime Minister of India announced the world's largest COVID-19 lockdown. We summarize the initial impacts of the lockdown for a representative sample of mostly poor and non-migrant workers in Delhi. Using Facebook mobility data, we show that intra-city movement dropped 80 percent following the announcement. Using microeconomic survey data, collected before and during the crisis, we highlight three patterns. First, the lockdown resulted in significant economic costs, with income and days worked falling by 57 and 73 percent, respectively. Second, the lockdown resulted in widespread compliance with public health directives: mask usage rose by 73 percentage points (pp); time spent indoors increased by 51 pp; smoking decreased by 13 pp; and handwashing rose by 10 pp. Third, the economic impacts of the lockdown were somewhat mitigated by government food assistance, which 36 percent of our sample accessed. Over the first seven weeks of the lockdown, we do not observe alarming levels of hunger, scarcity, access to medical care, or security. Yet in our data, concerns remain about mental health, supply chains, and personal savings, against the backdrop of a rising infection rate. Moreover, it remains to be seen whether public health compliance will persist, as the novelty, fear, and media coverage of COVID-19 subside.

Suggested Citation

Lee, Kenneth and Sahai, Harshil and Baylis, Patrick and Greenstone, Michael, Job Loss and Behavioral Change: The Unprecedented Effects of the India Lockdown in Delhi (May 15, 2020). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2020-65, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3601979 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3601979

Kenneth Lee (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Harshil Sahai

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Patrick Baylis

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics ( email )

997-1873 East Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Canada

Michael Greenstone

University of Chicago - Department of Economics

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Becker Friedman Institute for Economics ( email )

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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